The alcoholic professor put his hand on my crotch

Of course, we had a long affair, but it's been over now for years.

Published April 2, 2007 10:07AM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

I can't get something off my mind since it happened around last October. I went to lunch with someone I previously had an affair with (for 23 years!), a married alcoholic professor. I didn't know he was an alcoholic till later.

Anyway, the sexual part has been over since around 2002 but we did see each other from time to time because basically I have no one. He has his family and children. In the car and on the way back from lunch he put his hand on/in my crotch. (I was wearing slacks.)

Anyway, as I thought about it later, I was repulsed by his entitlement.

I have tried to write you about this relationship before, but it is too involved with his and my background and there is too much to write. I get overwhelmed.

Is he entitled to do that based on the previous relationship? Am I overly sensitive?

Unfortunately, I am Uncertain

Dear Uncertain,

An alcoholic professor put his hand on your crotch.

Was he entitled? Does it matter if he was entitled? Not really. What matters is you.

I think something has happened to you -- before this, I mean. You say you basically have no one. You lost your people. How did that happen?

More important, how will you find them again? I think you need to do some things. You say when you try to tell your story it overwhelms you. I think that is the key. I think it must be told. I suggest you write to me the whole story. I can't publish the whole story. But in writing it you may find courage. You may also find anger. Perhaps it is the approach of these things that feels like overwhelm when you start to write it.

I know a thing or two about overwhelm. I didn't know about overwhelm at first. I didn't know that was what you called that terrible, cold wind that would blow when you tried to look at things. Somebody who liked me but knew I was too screwed up to get involved with told me you call that overwhelm. Before she left me for good she told me about the overwhelm and I got it checked out and sure enough there was overwhelm taller than the high corn. I had no filters. There was rain coming in. There was light of all descriptions not filed properly. There were words and memories and no system for accounting. It wasn't that the filters were defective. They were gone.

Stopping the drinking really helped with the overwhelm. I'm not saying you are an alcoholic, or that you need to stop permanently. But sometimes even if you're drinking just to cope with the overwhelm what you need to do is stop the drinking long enough to let the high winds howl. What I mean is you reach a certain level of uncomfortable clarity, during which you continue what you are doing. You continue writing, telling your story, putting it down on paper. This exercise, in and of itself, regardless of who reads it, can be surprisingly useful.

In your case, if you do this, perhaps you will find the anger you feel about this long affair. You are mad at him, I would guess. Of course you are mad at him. He took a lot from you and left you with nothing. But perhaps you gave it to him all that time because you felt you had nothing else. So you are mad at yourself too. You are so mad you get overwhelmed when you start in. So you have to start in and work through the overwhelm like shouting into a hurricane. You have to tell the whole story. When you do, you will finally find yourself able to say, Fuck that asshole crotch-touching drunk man. Fuck him! Fuck him and his tallness. Fuck all the knowledge he carries like money. Fuck him!

So try not drinking for a week or two and writing out the whole story, the long version. And during that time, try calling your friends. You know you have some friends, even if you call them ex-friends. Do you feel you need an excuse to call? How about this: Everybody enjoys hearing where the drunk professor's hands have been.

This guy could be toast. But not you. You can get up out of this. I wish you would.

Come on. Forget this guy. Tell me your story.

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